Following the success of our volunteer building trips over the past 4 years, during which time we have built 31 homes for 150 children, we are delighted to offer you another chance to be part of a team that can lay the foundations to a brighter future for kids in Kenya.
October 2019 Trip
Our 2019 trip will run from 12th to 25th October 2019 with an optional 3 day safari to Masai Mara 26th to 28th October.
(Future house building trips will be July 2020, Oct 2021 and July 2022)
Before deciding which families we will build houses for, we take a great deal of time to assess their needs and situations to ascertain whether or not a new house is the best solution for them. Following our July 2018 building trip we assessed families in both of the regions we work in – Iten and Karatina. It was decided that those in greatest need of a new house were in the Karatina area.
Here are the families stories…
This family of 6 children (3 boys and 3 girls) and their mother are living in a very bad situation since the father abandoned them. He works in one of the military barracks and is polygamous with 3 other wives. Sharif, Hadija, Aisha, Ahmed Barako, Sauna, Wako and their mum, Grace, currently live in a single bedroom house which has been given to them for a short time only. They have one bed and the rest of them sleep on the floor. The bedding is extremely dirty and worn out.
Grace works in the surrounding tea estates as a casual worker but she does not get enough money to support the family. She can earn £1.50 a day but there’s no guarantee that she will get work. On the days where there is no work the family go without food.The children are very bright and performing well in school; always in the top ten of their respective classes. Despite their circumstances the children are determined to pursue their education.
When we first met them they were all smiling despite having had no food that day. They still welcomed Gideon for some ugali and chai.
After Gideon explained to the mother about why GEF had visited them, she cried because she couldn’t imagine an opportunity like this ever being presented to her family. We believe this family need the chance of better shelter and education. Currently none of the children have a sponsor.
Winlydia, Mary and Kelcy live with their mother in tiny single room house in Karatina. Sadly, their father ran away 5 years ago when her elder sister was joining high school and he disagreed with his daughters progressing to high school.
Their mother is a small scale trader selling carrots and onions but has been struggling to cater for the families education and shelter needs. Winlydia and her sisters often try to help their mother to support the family by washing neighbours laundry. This can be very dangerous for young girls being at other people’s homes. When Mary is home from boarding school during the holidays, she sleeps on the floor and emotionally told us that she is ashamed to live like that.
Winlydia is very good at plaiting hair and often plaits her sisters and neighbour’s hair. She also enjoys playing football and she wants to become an accountant when she grows up. We first met Winlydia when she came to our office in a very determined fashion requesting support. She rightly believed that she deserved the opportunity of an education. Thanks to monthly sponsorship from the Lawson family Winlydia is now excelling in school full time. Mary and Kelcy both require a sponsor.
ELIZABETH AND HER 5 DAUGHTERS
Myles & Gideon first visited this wonderful family in April 2018 and were so inspired by their commitment to education despite desperate challenges.
Elizabeth and her 5 daughters Josephine, Fidelis, Catherine, Faith and Margaret live in a broken wooden house (£5 per month rent) in Karatina. They are all incredibly talented academically but face many challenges. Elizabeth is not employed so she does casual work which gets her up to £2 a day. If there is no work available that day then there is no food for them. The children all go the library to study and Elizabeth really prioritises their education – on occasion even over food!
Elizabeth is a sister among 9 brothers from a poor family. The brothers were very dictator-like and abusive towards her and the girls so she moved away for their own safety. She was always very worried about her daughters when she was out at work. They moved into their current wooden house in July 2017, having previously stayed at her former employer’s house. Unfortunately the employer wasn’t paying her on time and often insisted that the children work too.
Catherine is very friendly and smiley and wants to be a chef when she grows up. We had never heard of one of our kids wanting to be a chef before and so we were able to get her some work experience at Omega Gardens Hotel which our guests stay at whilst in Karatina – she was so happy! Her latest grades were 352/500 (GEF’s target mark which can take a child to secondary school is 250/500).
ALICE AND HER TWO CHILDREN
The family is in desperate need of a house after they were “chased away” by Alice’s brothers following the deaths of their parents. They currently stay in a rental house near where Alice works. Sadly she is not treated well by her employer who overworks her despite having a broken hip which has gone untreated since early 2017. Alice fell at work and has been unable to afford the £4,000 required for treatment.
Ephraim is in form 3 but on occasions he is at home due to a lack of school fees. He wants to be a Neurosurgeon when he grows up. Peter is in nursery school and already knows he wants to be a policeman. If this family are not supported they may not achieve their dreams.
Similar to our last trip the next step is to purchase a piece of land so that we can build the houses for families during the trip. There will be small portions of the land available for the families to grow food for themselves to eat and we will also lease a separate 1 acre piece of land for each family to farm so that they can generate an income for themselves. We will lease this farm for 1 year and supply them with seeds and fertiliser to give them a boost but after year 1 they will take over the lease themselves. Between our team of volunteers, we will ask each person to raise £1,000 to go towards the approximate total of £42,000 needed for the land, building materials, solar power, water harvesting and furniture for the houses.
Please see the trip itinerary below. A comprehensive information document can be provided on request covering everything that you need to know; please email firstname.lastname@example.org for this.
- Guests arrive any time into Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
- Taxi or bus transfer depending on arrival time
- Dinner and spend night at hotel in Nairobi
- Travel by bus to Karatina and visit one of the families we will build for
- Check in to Omega Gardens Hotel and take dinner
- Visit site and 3 remaining families
Tuesday 15th to Tuesday 22nd
- Building houses
- Officially open new houses
- Bus to Nairobi – Check in to hotel for 2 nights
- Carnivore Restaurant (optional at 4,000ksh)
- Relax by pool at hotel
- Optional activities:
- Naivasha boating and biking safari – 12,000ksh with lunch
- Trip to Iten (flights) to visit houses built in July 2018 (price dependant on no. of people)
- Giraffe Centre 9am, Kibera Slum, Bomas & transport – 5,500ksh
- 2-day kids camp
- David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and Nairobi National Park with packed lunch
- Shower at Hotel
- Fly home after 10pm
Optional 3 day Masai Mara safari:
- Depart Hotel 8am
- 7 hour drive to Masai Mara
- Check into Mara Leisure Camp
- Evening game drive
- Full day game drive and sunset (weather dependant)
- Optional Masai Village 8am – 2,000ksh
- Depart camp 9am for 6-7hour drive with lunch Mai Mahiu
- Arrive back at Nairobi hotel by 4pm
- Depart hotel 6pm
- Fly home after 10pm
The cost of the trip (excluding international flights) will be £1,200 per person. This includes all accommodation, meals, domestic flights, transport, airport transfers and tourist activities mentioned above. We ask that everyone arrives at any time on Saturday 12th October. If you wish to arrive a day earlier this can be arranged at an additional cost of £80 for transfer, dinner and hotel. Please book return flight for after 10pm on Friday 25th October – unless you are going on the Masai Mara safari (which is separate from the GEF trip and an additional £575) then you should book your return flight for after 10pm on Monday 28th October.
Our trips are always offered at cost price so we kindly ask that everyone joining our adventure can set up Total Giving pages to help us fundraise for the approximate £42,000 building material and land costs. We require everyone to raise a minimum of £1,000 to fund these. Fundraising pages can be set up here – http://www.totalgiving.co.uk/charity/gathimba-edwards-foundation – please name your page with your FULL NAME followed by – GEF VOLUNTEER TRIP 2019 so that it is easy for us to keep track of donations. Funds raised offline can also be added to Total Giving pages so please do not add funds raised in cash to Total Giving online as they will take their small percentage (3%). It is best to transfer those cash funds to our GEF bank account directly and you can reflect the money in your TG total by adding it as ‘offline funds’. Gift aid will still be claimed by us at a later date. To add offline funds please follow the following steps:
- Click on Active Pages
- Click on your page
- You’ll see the section to insert the offline funds.
Please let us know via the below email address if you wish to attend as interest levels are high and we may have to set a limit of the number of volunteers we can accommodate on site and in hotels. Deposits are required to be paid before the end of April 2019 to secure your place. We require £600 from those not including Masai Mara and £880 for those including the safari; this is to enable us to book internal flights and hotel rooms before prices increase. All payment, visa and vaccination info is included in our information document which is available upon request.
If anyone knows of companies or individuals that may be in a position to sponsor team t-shirts, tools, timber, windows, doors, land or any other individual aspect of the work please let us know. Logos can be displayed on our t-shirts, website and presentations. It would also be helpful if anyone keen to come on the trip can let us know of any DIY experience they have. To register your place or find out more information, please email email@example.com
To read Alan and his wife’s account of the July 2018 building trip, click Alan & Lisa McConachie’s Testimonial.
Thank you to all our volunteers and sponsors who made our 2018 trip possible. Bring on October 2019!
July 2018 Trip
In July 2018 our group of 29 international volunteers and many from within Kenya built 4 houses in just 6 days, breaking all records we have achieved in previous house building trips. No-one could quiet believe it, but it just goes to show when a group of people come together to make something happen special things can be accomplished. You can watch how we did it by clicking here.
We wanted to tell you more about this trip through the eyes of our volunteers this time so the next part is told by Kayleigh, who came as a volunteer and has now joined our UK team.
Let me start with a photo… This picture shows Sarah (9 years old) being told by Gideon Gathimba that she will have a new home 1 week from then and also that Darren’s (right) parents would be sponsoring her through school. It’s the picture from all of my collection that brings me to tears. Her smile explains everything!
Sarah’s family (her mother Christine and 4 other siblings; Nicolas, Bernard, Isaac and Nelly) have been sleeping in a mud hut for 11 years, at the side of a dirt road so rough that vehicles can barely get over it. They previously lived in the forest but were evicted by the Government and then put on a waiting list for a home. They were 10th on the list but when it came to their turn the local area Chief stole the land and gave it to his son, leaving them to remain in these desperate and dangerous conditions.
Now they have a new home with more than one room (3 bedrooms), where they can sleep without being choked by fumes from the cooking and where they will have actual beds and mattresses and not have to sleep in a seated position because there isn’t enough room. They will have a roof that doesn’t leak. Their new home will have one solar panel to enable them to have light in each room. They will have a water tank to collect rain water for showering and cooking. They will have a separate kitchen. And they will have land and seeds supplied by GEF to help them become self-sufficient over the next year.
Gathimba Edwards Foundation and the other volunteers I had the pleasure of assisting made this happen and it’s just incredible. I can’t even put the experience in words without tearing up, it has been life changing – both for the children we have helped and for me. To see these kids with barely anything in life except the old clothes on their body and the biggest smiles on their faces just goes to show that people can create their own happiness, not possessions.
It really was an eye opener to see the families before we starting building and the second family we helped lived in a mud hut in the middle of a forest. When the volunteers arrived, we had to leave the matatus behind and walk 10 minutes through the forest before we reached their home. I remember it well as we spotted monkeys high in the trees and a woman who passed us with a stack of wood she had balanced on her head.
4 children in this family, Joel, Millicent, Eugene and Mercy all live with their grandmother here. They all slept on a mud floor until GEF were able to get them beds and bedding, but even with beds this was not somewhere any person let alone a child should be living. Myles & Gideon explained to the volunteers that Millicent told GEF previously, she is always afraid when she walks to and from school through the forest. She hoped one day she will walk without fear.
The family were so welcoming towards us, even when it was time to go Gogo, the Grandmother, and Jennifer the children’s mum insisted we stay longer to have some chi. They handed out cups to everyone and had 2 full flasks ready for us. Honestly it warmed me so much, they have so little yet they wanted to give all 29 volunteers a cup of tea.
The other two families, namely the Ewoi and Ekele families, already lived locally to the Iten area. Both families lived in similar accommodation; one room buildings per family with leaking roofs and a smell from the kitchen fumes, which burned right next to the bunk beds, that I can’t even describe. It choked me just being in the house for a few minutes. The whole group really got to know the children well from both families as Viki (18), Dan (18) and Titus (13) joined us on site to help build the houses. The kids were actually involved in the making of their own bedrooms, and they had no problem getting stuck in. Humphrey (21), who is now in university thanks to support from GEF, came to assist too. He travelled 3 hours from his home in Karatina to join the team; he wanted to give something back after he had a house build for his family by GEF last October. I remember when I was 21 and I can say no one would have got me on a building site in my spare time. These children and youngsters are amazing people who have very little, while we haven’t built them mansions or such like, to them we have given them a place called home, to feel safe and warm with family. What more do any of us really want?
If you ever have the opportunity to do a volunteer trip to help someone or something then grab it with both hands. If you think one person can’t change the world let me tell you… you are wrong! Together, individuals make a collective, who in turn can end up being the light the world needs more of!
I feel one of my fellow volunteers, Declan, write about his time on the trip in a very accurate and heart-warming way. Please have a read:
“I had such an amazing time and meet so many fantastic people that I have now adopted them as my Kenyan family. I truly found it magical how 29 strangers from all walks of life came together to make a difference.
It was sad enough to see adults in the 21st century living in some of the conditions we seen but it was really heart-breaking to see the children condemned to the same conditions, with no real chance of improving their situation by themselves. To put it in prospective 1 of the families were struggling to pay their monthly rent and pay for school fees with the latter paying the price, 1 months’ rent for their accommodation which was a cramped single room with bunk beds for the whole family shoe horned in with no space for anything else was 1000 Kenyan shillings which is the equivalent of £8.
The Nandi Family have been living on the side of the road for 12 years in a leaky, smoky mud hut that wouldn’t fit my office desk and there were 6 of them sleeping on the cold mud floor not being able to lay flat due to lack of space so basically have to sleep while sitting up.
I think seeing the families before the build helped spur us to complete the 8 day build 2 days ahead of schedule with some blood a lot of sweat and tears going into them. 29 strangers became a family and worked together as a unit. I truly felt like I found my second calling in life during the build, I loved every minute of it. I actually think building the houses was my favourite part of the trip, my nice soft hands probably wouldn’t agree though.
We didn’t just build the families a house but a home. We had built them a future platform to better themselves! Helping also to give kids a chance at education and potential athletes a chance to chase their dreams. I was completely humbled by their appreciation and thanks.
I’ve learned so much on my trip to Kenya and made so many memories that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. I feel like I’ve actually achieved something meaningful with my life now, it has truly been one of the best experiences of my life and I’d recommend it to anyone.”
October 2017: 4 houses for 10 children in 7 days
In October 2017 our volunteers built 4 houses for 2 families in 7 days – 1 day ahead of schedule! You can watch how we did it by clicking here.
The family pictured below had been through some very tough times. The 6 of them lived in a broken wooden shed in Nyeri. James (right) scored very impressive primary school marks of 352/500 but couldn’t start secondary school in Jan 2016 due to lack of £140. His dream of becoming a neuro surgeon was in jeopardy. He decided he wanted to try and commit suicide so that he wouldn’t see so much more struggles but he was convinced not to by our GEF staff and a local counsellor. Thanks to kind sponsorship from Alan Esson, James is now in secondary school and tells us the sky is the limit for him and his family. He is determined to change his family’s life for the better. His brother Stephen (left) fell of the back of a moving pick-up truck in 2013 and spent 1 month in a coma. Hospital fees were impossibly high to pay but neighbours joined together to pay some and the rest was paid by the local area administration. He has now fully recovered and wishes to go to college so that he can become a plant operator. Twin girls Faith and Ann are currently in nursery school thanks to support from four of our house building volunteers, Suzy, Susan, Fiona and Susan. They never stopped smiling even though they were living in some of the worst conditions we have seen. These smiles are even bigger now thanks to the volunteers efforts and the girls provided us with lots of singing and entertainment during the building. Paul is also back in school thanks to sponsorship from Claire Barrie and Chris Hanton as part of our #12days12futures campaign in December 2016. There is an amazing unity between the children and their mum.
In the family pictured below, Humphrey (right) scored very high primary school marks but had been sent home from Form 2 of secondary school due to a lack of fees and Form 1 arrears. He was set to be unable to complete his education. They lived just outside Karatina where they shared a small rental house. Mum Lucy (right) shared the single bed each night with little Fidelis and her sisters Phoeby (brown dress) and Ivy (yellow dress) whilst Humphrey and his younger brother Gibson (second left) stayed next door in a small room.
The family had lived with their grandparents until sadly they both passed away. Much to our anger, their uncles chased the family away, refusing to let them stay in the family home or support them in any way. This left them homeless until a kind landlord decided to give them a small house temporarily but they then had to move from house to house as they struggle to pay the rent.
Earning £1.50 at most each day working long hours on a farm, it was pretty much impossible for Lucy to pay school fees – especially Humphrey’s university fees and Gibson’s £500+ a year secondary fees – or to ensure that they were all eating regular meals. We are delighted that all 5 children are now in full time education and eating regular meals thanks to support from sponsors who the children write to regularly. Humphrey recently completed secondary school and scored an impressive B- which saw him start university this year. We are soon going to be able to help Lucy start her own business. The family are one of the most humble and polite family’s we have met. Following a shopping trip which we took them on in April 2015, Lucy wrote a lovely thank you letter to Gideon Gathimba thanking us for our support.
Huge thanks to all of our volunteers, their friends and family for everything you did to help us successfully build the 4 houses in 7 days. The houses were built on GEF land and each family will be given a portion of the land to grow various foodstuffs that will provide them with food. An additional plot of land will be leased for them for 1 year, and seeds/fertiliser provided so that they can generate an income for themselves. After they first year they will take over the lease themselves.
As a team our volunteers raised a whopping £36,161!! The total land and building costs came to £27,499 which means that £8,662 more than required was raised.
This £8,662 is going to enable us to build a new house and kitchen for a family in Iruri who are living in desperate conditions and also make some of the big improvements required at the Pavilion Village children’s home such as painting, windows, external flooring repair, curtains, tiling, improvements to the staff houses, an activity area for the young kids and much more.
After the building works were complete guests enjoyed visits to The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphange, Nairobi National Park and Masai Mara – where we saw the famous ‘Big 5’ animals withing 5 hours!
Thank you to all of you for transforming so many lives.
Caroline Tough, who raised over £9,000 towards the building costs with her friends and family had this to say about the trip:
“I had the trip of a lifetime, here’s why: –
- With the help, love and support of an army of people I raised £9188 which covered the cost of the building materials for 2 houses – one was dedicated to the memory of my Dad and the other one was dedicated to the memory of my cousin. It also funded a series of health seminars for families which The Gathimba Edwards Foundation support.
- I met some incredible Kenyans and experienced a very warm welcome to a country I now love. I met and worked with amazing volunteers from the UK, Kenya, Australia and the US. All the volunteers poured soooo much love and passion into the House Building Project.
- As someone who had never even dabbled in DIY activities before the trip, it was soooo exciting to learn some new skills – sawing, glazing and fitting internal walls! Darren Cocker, the Project Manager is a great leader. He was in full control of the build and was always on hand to answer any questions, and provide guidance to the volunteers. It was a real privilege to be part of a team that built four houses for families in need. There was even an opportunity to get to know these amazing families, who later became our friends!
- I can’t put into words how special it was to meet my sponsor child, Dan. He is such a wonderful person. I had the opportunity to spend quality time with him. He even taught me a few Kenyan dance moves!
- I attended the awe-inspiring house opening ceremony. The speeches, singing, and dancing and (happy) tears are imprinted on my memory. I will never forget how excited the families were about moving into their new houses!
- I visited The Pavilion Village Orphanage in Karatina – the children’s home which inspired Myles Edwards and Gideon Gathimba to set up The Gathimba Edwards Foundation. I now understand first-hand what drove these special people to set up GEF in the first place. I met a remarkable wee boy called Ian who I’ll always remember. He told me that his parents had died. When I offered my condolences, he smiled broadly and said ‘thank you’. The kids keep smiling despite so many challenges.
- I ran 6 times on Kenyan soil, at altitude. As a runner, this was a great thrill, and really helped my fitness. I even got the chance to run with the co-founders of GEF who are a Kenyan international and a Scottish title holder!!!!
- At the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, I was ‘kissed’ by a giraffe!
- I visited an elephant orphanage, and Nairobi National Park.
- I laughed and cried, and learned so much during the House Building Trip to Kenya. I felt as though I had an opportunity to detox my mind. I’m truly, truly grateful for all these experiences, I can’t wait to take part in the Building Trip in July 2018!
- I enjoyed every second of the trip. I appreciate and value everything the fantastic GEF team did to make it a trip of a lifetime on so many levels. I can’t wait to come back next year!”
The 2016 trip: 5 houses in 9 days
In October 2016 our 25 volunteers achieved something very special. In the space of just 9 days they managed to build 5 houses for families in Iten. Their amazing efforts have taken 25 children from sleeping on the floor of mud houses to lovely new beds in shiny new timber homes.
Here’s what some of our volunteers had to say about the experience:
“Seeing the excitement of the children as they prepared to move into their new homes was incredible. They appreciate the small things in life. It was inspiring to see what a weight it was off their mum’s shoulders to have a safe place for her and her children to sleep. Jess Thom
“Its a pleasure to be a part of GEF and help children in my hometown to have safe homes and bright futures.” New York and London Marathon champion, Mary Keitany who officially opened one of the new houses.
“It is amazing how quickly great things can happen. Arriving at site each morning and seeing the progress of the previous day is fantastic. I just love it.” Jo Robertson
“The hard work is worth it. You get a lot more out of it then you put in.” Tracey Monro
“It is great to see what we achieved in such a short space of time. The impact it brings to locals is fantastic and clear to see.” Steven Smith
We are incredibly proud of our 51 volunteers who in October 2015 helped us build a new 16 bed dormitory for the children at the Pavilion Village children’s home and a 3 bedroom house for Judy Gathigia and her family in Iruri. This wouldn’t have been possible without their efforts and in particular the support from Stewart Milne Group who flew 19 of their expert staff out to help our efforts. They tell us what they thought of the trip in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfcZ5lX1IXc&feature=youtu.be
“The whole experience was inspirational and what made it even more humbling was that the people we were building for were with us on site every day.” Garry Willis.
“This was the most unreal and amazing 2 weeks of my life. The reality of life for so many people in Kenya is unbelievable. We were able to do so many inspiring and life changing things in a short space of time. So many special memories and some new life-long friends too.” Nicola Henderson
“Unlike most charity donations/events I have done before, this trip gave me the opportunity to see first-hand the difference that our money, clothes, toys and hard work would make to severely underprivileged children.” James Ferguson
“This trip is a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life. The hardship that I have now seen, that some of the less fortunate people in the world go through has really made me appreciate what I have in life.” Frank O’Reilly